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Wisconsin Football Is the Best at Developing This Position for the NFL

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Wisconsin Badgers football
Sep 22, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers helmets sit on the field during warmups prior to the game against the UTEP Miners at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin defeated UTEP 37-26. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin football program has a long history of churning out NFL prospects on the offensive line; here’s a look at how impressive they really are. 

The Wisconsin football program has gained a reputation in the last three decades as a factory for identifying, developing, and turning out NFL-caliber offensive linemen. The Badgers have produced a long list of successful linemen who have gone on to play in the NFL, and their track record is seemingly unmatched by any other college football program in the country during that timeframe.

Since 1993, Wisconsin has produced seven first-round draft picks (most in the Big Ten), had 30 offensive linemen drafted (No. 1 in the Big Ten), and of that group, 20 of them went in the first three rounds (also first in the Big Ten).

Wisconsin is O-Line U

Wisconsin football offensive line

January 1, 2011; Pasadena, CA, USA; The Wisconsin Badgers offensive line prior to the snap against the TCU Horned Frogs during the second half during the 2011 Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Badgers’ offensive line tradition dates back to the early 1990s when legendary coach Barry Alvarez took over the program. Alvarez established a culture of toughness and physicality that has been a hallmark of Wisconsin football ever since.

Under Alvarez, the Badgers produced a number of outstanding offensive linemen, including Joe Panos, Chris McIntosh, and Aaron Gibson, all of whom went on to successful NFL careers.

Since Alvarez’s retirement in 2005, the Badgers have continued to produce top-notch offensive linemen under the leadership of head coaches Bret Bielema and Paul Chryst. In recent years, players like Ryan Ramczyk, Kevin Zeitler, Travis Frederick, Rob Havenstein, and Joe Tippmann have all been drafted into the NFL after successful careers at Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Football Breeds Excellence in the Trenches 

What sets Wisconsin football apart when it comes to offensive line development? For one, the Badgers have a reputation for recruiting and developing large, physical linemen who excel in run blocking. Wisconsin linemen are known for their strength and technique, and they often have a mean streak on the field that makes them tough to handle.

Another factor that sets Wisconsin apart is the team’s offensive scheme. The Badgers rely heavily on the running game, and their linemen are tasked with creating holes for the running backs to exploit. This puts a premium on run-blocking skills and gives Wisconsin linemen a chance to shine in an area highly valued by NFL teams.

Finally, Wisconsin linemen benefit from a history of success at the NFL level. When NFL teams are evaluating potential draft picks, they pay close attention to players who have succeeded in similar schemes or systems. With so many former Wisconsin football linemen playing in the NFL, teams know they can trust Badger linemen to transition to the next level.

Why Wisconsin Football is the Most Underrated Program in the Country


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Trevor Lovec is a freelance sports writer, BadgerNotes.com correspondent, and a diehard Northern Iowa fan. He covers Wisconsin football & basketball, plus a little Badgers recruiting for Badgernotes.com.

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